Ludhiana Fortis directed to pay 55 lakh as compensation for medical negligence

Hindustan Times, Ludhiana | ByAneesha Sareen Kumar
Aug 03, 2018 10:53 AM IST

In May 2016, a 68-year-old woman had died in the hospital during recovery from brain tumour surgery; family had claimed negligence during shifting to ventilator support.

Ludhiana The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed Fortis Hospital, Ludhiana, to pay 55 lakh compensation after a 68-year-old woman, Rita Jain, admitted to the hospital for brain tumour surgery in May 2016, died due to medical negligence within 10 days. The hospital has also been directed to pay 33,000 towards litigation costs.

The hospital has also been directed to pay ₹33,000 towards litigation cost.(Reuters File Photo)
The hospital has also been directed to pay ₹33,000 towards litigation cost.(Reuters File Photo)

The complainants, Anil Jain of Jammu, husband of Rita, and his two daughters and son, had alleged that the hospital’s pressure support ventilation system was improper ‘resulting in the untimely death of the patient’.

“The hospital must pay 55 lakh for the expenses occurred and for the pain, sufferings, loss of love and affection on account of loss of the wife of the complainant,” said the commission.

After the surgery, initially, the patient showed signs of recovery and started manifesting bodily gestures through her eyes and limbs. She was then in Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU). Thereafter, she was put on artificial/mechanical ventilation. On May 30, she was shifted to another form of mechanical ventilation known as the Pressure Support Ventilation (PSV). It was alleged that prior to the shifting of the patient to PSV, she had shown signs of good recovery, was moving all limbs along with eye contact and was even obeying commands. The complaint added that subsequent to the shifting of the patient to PSV, it transpired that the hospital staff did not possess the ‘basic expertise’ to handle the mechanism.

According to the complaint, during the shifting to the PSV, “Abnormally excessive air/oxygen was inserted into the patient, resulting in serious injury to her lungs causing a cardiac arrest, which proved to be fatal. The cause of cardiac arrest was pneumothorax, which is an injury which results from excessive oxygen in the lungs.” “The cause of death mentioned in the death summary is sudden cardiac arrest due to the lung injury (pneumothorax),” the complaint added.

Fortis’ contention

In its reply, Fortis stated that the complaint was not maintainable as there is no evidence on record that there was any negligence or deficiency or delay in service on the part of the hospital. It was alleged that the patient was diagnosed with pneumonitis, and the hospital, via an x-ray of a chest, showed that pneumonia could lead to pneumothorax.

Hospital tampered with documents: Commission

The commission ruled that there was medical negligence on the part of the hospital in handling the PSV of the patient. “A look at the critical care flow sheets reveal that a number of cuttings have been made at various points which show that the documents have been tampered with,” said the commission, headed by president Paramjeet Singh Dhaliwal.

“No explanation has been forthcoming on record on why the cuttings were made and by whom. Such record, which has been tampered with in order to save itself (the hospital) from liability, cannot be taken into consideration,” the commission added.

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